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First look: Maserati springs GranCabrio surprise

Topless trident: GranCabrio is the first Maserati convertible since the 2006 Spyder.

GranTurismo soft-top emerges as Maserati’s first four-seater convertible

24 Aug 2009

MASERATI has revealed its first ever four-seater convertible ahead of the GranCabrio’s global debut at the Frankfurt motor show in three weeks, but it could have been much more than simply a soft-top version of the GranTurismo coupe.

The Italian brand says the GranCabrio’s folding canvas roof continues an open-top model tradition that began with the 1950 A6G Frua Spyder, but Maserati had originally planned for it to be a shorter, two-seater roadster with a folding hard-top.

The design for the first Maserati convertible available in Australia since the 3200 GT Coupe-based Spyder (sold here between late 2001 and 2006) eventually became the basis for sister company Ferrari’s new California, which last year became a sell-out success in both two-seat or 2+2 seating configurations.

32 center imageMaserati says the GranCabrio, which will go on sale in Europe next March before first Australian and New Zealand deliveries take place in the third quarter, has the longest wheelbase of any convertible on the market, which should deliver class-leading rear legroom for occupants of the two “proper” rear seats.

Based on the 1880kg GranTurismo S, which also donates its more powerful 323kW/490Nm 4.7-litre V8, the GranCabrio will almost certainly also be one of the heaviest convertibles available. Despite its weight-saving fabric roof, extensive body strengthening measures could see the newest Maserati top two tonnes.

No other technical details are forthcoming from Maserati, but expect the topless trident to accelerate to 100km/h in about 5.5 seconds – marginally slower than the GT S, which sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 4.9 seconds and offers a top speed of 295km/h. The standard (298kW/460Nm) GranTurismo coupe completes the task in about 5.2 seconds.

“The GranCabrio represents the very essence of Maserati in terms of open-top cars,” said the Modena car-maker. “It's a Maserati in the purest sense of the word: from the unmistakable style by Pininfarina to the spacious interior, from the craftsmanship of each detail to the driving pleasure and performance.

“The Maserati GranCabrio enriches all five senses in a shared open-air experience, without sacrificing comfort and performance. A dream car designed and built for men and women who love to live life in an understated - though sophisticated - manner.”

The GranCabrio convertible brings to three the number of models now offered by the Fiat Group’s trident brand, whose Quattroporte sedan (priced from $296,000) and GranTurismo coupe (from $298,800) have proven almost 50 per cent less popular in terms of Australian sales this year.

Expect the GranCabrio to set a new Maserati price peak well above the top-spec GranTurismo S pricetag of $345,900, but well short of the Ferrari California’s $472,000 admission price. It should come standard with the same six-speed ZF automatic transmission that appeared in the GranTurismo S at this year’s Geneva show.

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